Islet Cell Transplant Procedure
The Transplant Procedure
When suitable islets become available, the patient will be contacted and arrangements will be made for a stay at the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) for approximately 2-3 days.
The pancreatic islets are removed from a donor pancreas, isolated in the laboratory and then infused into the patient via the portal vein of the liver, where the islets attach themselves and begin producing insulin.
This procedure is minimally invasive and has few complications. Patients usually do not obtain insulin independence after one islet infusion and may become "relisted" for another transplant infusion at a later date. Our protocol allows for up to three separate islet infusions to obtain insulin independence.
After the Transplant
Patients who have received islet infusions will, as in other organ transplants, commit to a lifelong regimen of anti-rejection medications and medical follow-up to prevent the immune system from destroying the islet cells.
Our standard protocol is treatment before the transplant is thymoglobulin and etanercept. After transplant, patients follow a maintenance regimen of tacrolimus and sirolimus anti-rejection drugs.
Follow-up study requirements are extensive. In addition to frequent study visits, glucose logs and following the medication regimen, patients are required to have blood drawn for testing on a fixed schedule. Initially this blood work will occur twice a week. This frequency will decline over time to an annual schedule. These blood tests allow us to monitor the anti-rejection drug levels and the patient's well-being.